Retirement Phase

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The retirement phase typically deals with the removal of the system and its related services from an operation, which includes the activities of retirement and/or disposal. However, if a case can be made for the need to continue the working of the system, the retirement stage can be replaced with a new life cycle for system extension or improvement.

For a student-driven satellite team, the following aspects would need to be covered under the retirement phase:

  • “Kill” command: Such a command needs to be designed as part of the system, which can be used to shut down the entire system permanently should anything go catastrophically wrong, for instance, the satellite transmitting out of frequency band which could affect the performance of other satellites in space.
  • De-orbiting mechanism: Another thing to be kept in mind while planning the retirement phase is: space debris. Space debris poses a substantial navigational challenge to operational satellites. If it collides with a functioning spacecraft, it can inflict considerable damage, and even render the spacecraft inoperable. Which is why deorbiting is a critical process. More information on passive deorbiting systems and deorbiting strategies can be found in the links given.
  • Post Mission Analysis: Following the end-of-life stage of a mission, the success of the mission (whose criteria should have been decided beforehand) should be evaluated. In addition to that, if the system witnessed any kind of failure over its life cycle, the reasons for that should be identified.
  • Documentation: This mostly involves documentation of the entire set of decisions and designing challenges faced during the whole system life cycle. Having all that data in one place will be a much cleaner way of passing information to the future team. Once this is done, there is the decision of whether or not to publish this data or simply archive it.
  • Archival/Publishing of data: All of the documentation of the mission, the system and the data, will need to be compiled. This data can be archived for future use or reference, or published.

If you are done reading this page, you can go back to Starting a Student Satellite Project.